The uptick in antisemitism has been on full display in Georgia for the last few months.

It started with hateful fliers being left on streets and driveways in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, then in neighborhoods around East Atlanta.

In June, Neo-Nazis showed up with swastika flags at synagogues in East Cobb, Macon, and Warner Robbins.

These bigots have always operated in the fringes, but lately, they’ve been emboldened to bring their hate to the public square without fear of punishment. A report by the Anti-Defamation League shows a 63% increase in antisemitism in Georgia.

Social media is awash in politicians and pundits tacitly propping up the behavior or joining in with thinly veiled anti-Jewish tropes – and sometimes not so thin.

Remember when Georgia’s own Marjorie Taylor Greene suggested the Rothschild banking firm was behind the creation of a “space laser” that started the California wildfires?

These antisemitic tropes that Jewish people and institutions secretly control the world have been around long before the Third Reich and still flourish among conspiracy theorists and hate groups.

Disinformation and outright lies are so prevalent and casual on Twitter that you need to have Google open in a separate window to fact-check nearly every post.

From the anti-vaxxers to those still litigating the 2020 presidential election to the appalling attacks on the transgender community, there’s a dastardly conspiracy lurking behind every fearful post.

And fear is most definitely at the root. Fictional President Andrew Shepherd summed it up succinctly in his press briefing room speech (and if you haven’t seen “The American President” stop reading now, watch, and come back enlightened) when he says his opponent is “interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it.”

Fearmongering has long been a gambit for winning elections, but the tactic has been dialed up off the meter in the age of social media. For this election cycle, the LGBTQ+ community has been thrown on the fear altar. The tired, old “gay agenda” trope is back, drag queens are no longer camp entertainment but “coming for the children,” and trans women are “erasing real women.” Don’t even get me started on the whole “woke” baloney.

This nonsense is really enough to make your head explode, but then you realize there are thousands – perhaps millions – who have been fed a steady diet of lies and fear. These folks vote and they will push the button for whichever fearmonger has the most money and loudest voice.

Just before we went to print, Bill Nigut’s “Political Rewind” – often a source of the most reasonable discourse on today’s hyperpartisanship – was scrapped by GPB after a decade. Moves like that make finding the truth all the more difficult and allow fringe elements to seize the narrative.

As we move into another presidential election cycle, I encourage everyone to get off social media, read more (including the words and research offered by those with different leanings and beliefs), and maybe spend a day or two at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.

Reject darkness. Remain in light.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.